Now in its 11th year, and returning to Kulturbrauerei for the second year running, Around the World in 14 Films continues to go from strength to strength as one of Berlin’s finest boutique festivals. This year’s edition sees special screenings bulking out the programme to a total of 23 (not 14!) features from as far away as Chile (Pablo Larrain’s Neruda), Kurdistan (Bahman Ghobadi’s A Flag Without a Country) and even the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu (Tanna). This really is a rare case of all killer, no filler.
It all kicks off on November 25 with Albert Serra’s The Death of Louis XIV, a death-chamber piece in which we observe the French monarch’s failing health up close through Jean-Pierre Léaud’s tour-de-force performance and exquisite mise-en-scène. Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman (Nov 27) is a beautifully-crafted social drama, in which the comfortable middle-class living space of a couple cracks open and is plagued by moral dilemmas. In the compellingly claustrophobic Sieranevada (Nov 28-29), by Romanian auteur Cristi Puiu, family members are crammed into an apartment and have no escape from one other as they discuss politics, dark secrets, and hidden scandals. Representing Finland, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (Nov 26-27), is a gentle and unassuming black-and-white biopic exploring a renowned boxer’s struggles between the craving for success and the desire to lead a tranquil life. For those who couldn’t get enough of Lav Diaz’s eight-hour long A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery at this year’s Berlinale, his Golden Lion-winning follow-up The Woman Who Left (Dec 1 and 3) is a “mere” four-hour long audio-visual feast, shot in mesmerising black-and-white, about a wrongly convicted school teacher’s long journey towards reconciliation. And from the USA, Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women (Dec 3-4) was named Best Film at October’s London Film Festival. True to Reichardt’s form, it’s an exquisitely understated, dazzlingly precise study of small-town America, with note-perfect performances from Laura Dern and Michelle Williams.
Over the course of the festival, filmmakers Esther May Campbell (Light Years), Ulrich Seidl (Safari), Juho Kuosmanen (The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki), Kirill Serebrennikov (The Student), Emin Alper (Frenzy), and Bahman Ghobadi (A Flat Without a Country) will all be swinging by to introduce and discuss their work. For further information and to book tickets, head to 14films.de/en/.
Around the World in 14 Films Nov 25-Dec 4 Cinestar, Kulturbrauerei, Prenzlauer Berg